Adventures in Eating & Cooking
Tonight Drexel’s CAB (Campus Activity Board) held a Philly’s Best Food Event at our Student Center, featuring various restaurants that presented their dishes. The only catch was that attendees had to rate the taste, presentation, and creativity of each participating restaurant. This sounded way too good to be true for something that was free admission, so I didn’t expect too much.
And I was right. Although most of the dishes were presented in an upscale manner, the food was pretty average. I mean it wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t up to par with its description: “Philadelphia’s best restaurants compete to be the favorite among Drexel students.” I’m pretty sure the restaurants there weren’t Philadelphia’s best, and if they were, I’d have to give up all hope on Philly.
But considering that I didn’t have to pay a cent (whereas the school cafeteria technically charges about $7/meal as calculated from the $5,000 meal plan) and the richness of the foods, this event was definitely worth attending. Now a close-up on what I had tonight:
Each restaurant presented two dishes, of which we were only allowed to choose one. St. Tropez’s table gave a choice of either the Saumon or the Bistro Filet. I decided on the Saumon, or more like, I thought we were allowed to try both so I just took the first plate without knowing we couldn’t take the second.
This dish was pretty good, except I did not appreciate the goat cheese melted into the pastry puff (I’m not a big fan of the grassy goat flavor…). Other than that, the salmon was well cured, and the plate had a lovely presentation. The pastry, used to sandwich the salmon, was neither flaky nor buttery. Instead it was kind of papery… I could not distinguish among the sauces as they all tasted the same, though one of them was supposed to be curry. I definitely did not taste the curry. There was some sort of vegetable in the sandwich, either spinach or asparagus I couldn’t tell… but it went alright with the salmon.
The two orange balls on the side were interesting. I dared myself to eat one, fearing that it might be some rare species of olive. It turned out to be a type of small citrus fruit, which I inferred from its zesty flavor. Overall, the Saumon was decent, probably one of the best dishes of the night. My roomie who also tried the Saumon liked it so much that she suggested going to St. Tropez during Philadelphia’s next Restaurant Week. I think I’m going to accept this invitation, especially since St. Tropez seems to have some interesting menu items. Plus, I need to try more French cuisine!
The second stop was Mid-Atlantic Restaurant, which had a selection of either Roasted Chicken & Lima Bean Polenta, or Veggie Scrapple Appetizer. I picked the scrapple since my roomie went for the chicken.
This was mediocre. I mean it wasn’t bad in that the scrapple wasn’t too dry or wet or nasty-tasting. It was just average. I liked some of the rich veggie/grainy flavors that suggested this dish is good for you. However, the sauces on the side were really weird. I think the yellow one was some sort of mild wasabi and the dark brown one was some odd fish sauce. It seemed that the sauces were just there as a desperate attempt at aesthetics, but definitely took away from the overall taste.
Our third stop was at Chestnut Street Caterers, which I found out is actually a service that was created entirely by and is a part of Drexel. I picked the mashed potato with bits of lobster and corn in an onion over the brownie. (Strange, since I love sweets and hate onions. But I also love lobster and was craving it.)
Aside from the onion part, this was a pretty decent hor d’oeuvre. The rich and creamy mashed potatoes were quite addicting, and I really enjoyed the bits of corn and lobster embedded within. I only wish there were more lobster because the potato was overpowering. I mean it was delicious potato, but the addition of lobster would give more dimension to the flavor. Admittedly, the onion added to the taste of the dish, but that doesn’t mean I appreciated the bits of green onion inside. In a nutshell, it was an average plate that could have been better with more lobster and less onion!
Fourth stop was Landmark Americana. I took the Tomato Soup over the Ribs, and I liked it. On first sip I thought the soup was too sour, but then I realized it was tomato soup. The flavor was actually pretty balanced. The best part was definitely the two mini-grilled cheese bread cubes floating on top. They had absorbed some of the sour-savory soup, but retained part of its rich cheese and crunchy bread flavor. I found that the combination of these mildly-related tastes was delicious.
The final destination was sensational DJ Chef’s table where he was simultaneously blasting popular music and serving dessert: Chocolate Banana Dream Cake.
It was some pretty creative cake. I could definitely tell that it was freshly made and contained no box ingredients. I think I neither liked nor disliked it. On the one hand, the chocolate was not dense enough, and the texture was weird due to its banana bits. But on the other hand, this lack of chocolate richness and typical fluffy cake texture didn’t mean it was bad. It was just…unconventional. I guess I wasn’t that big of a fan of his cake, but the DJ definitely deserves props for his spectrum of talents.
St. Bistro: B+
Chestnut St. Caterers: B
Landmark Americana: B+
DJ Chef: B/B+
Conclusions: Time and money well spent, or should I say not spent, on some good food. I hope CAB has another food event like this next year, and I hope to dine at St. Tropez’s Bistro during Philly’s next Restaurant Week to give a fuller assessment of the restaurant. DJ Chef is another sensation to look into.